With a silver medal from the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics and two golds and a bronze from the 1984 Games in Sarajevo, long-track speed skater Gaétan Boucher is the winningest Canadian in Winter Olympic history.
“It was a matter of proving that all the training I did wasn’t wasted,” he says now. Boucher trained 11 gruelling months a year—on skates and bicycles, running sprints and pushing weights. “It’s all a matter of motivation,” he says. “And that’s what makes the difference between athletes who win and those who don’t.”
That intensity turned to frustration in the last two years of Boucher’s skating career, after he tore a ligament in his left ankle. In 1988, he hung up his skates. He worked as a TV commentator at the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, where he criticized Canada’s speed skatersior not training hard enough. And he will be a commentator for the Quebec network TVA in Lillehammer— but he seems impressed with the racers this time. “For sure, some people are working very hard,” he says. “The results are a lot better.” Now 34 and a physical education student at the Université de Montréal, Boucher runs a summer training program for hockey players, most of them professionals. “We try to make them understand that the success of the program depends on how much they put into it,” he says. Even professional athletes, though, may have difficulty living up to Boucher’s extraordinary work ethic.
The story you want is part of the Maclean’s Archives. To access it, log in here or sign up for your free 30-day trial.
Experience anything and everything Maclean's has ever published — over 3,500 issues and 150,000 articles, images and advertisements — since 1905. Browse on your own, or explore our curated collections and timely recommendations.WATCH THIS VIDEO for highlights of everything the Maclean's Archives has to offer.